Summertime means different things to different people, but for many of us, the longs days and short nights spell out a few months of fun. Road trips, moving, and various activities with friends and family keep us busy from sunup to sundown, and often far beyond that.
Even if you don’t have a few months off from school, work, and other responsibilities, odds are you are keeping yourself busy. Many businesses swing into high gear during the summer, meaning that workers have more shifts, longer hours, and more stress. For those who do shift work and have kids at home, summer could mean getting very little sleep, too. Regardless of who you are or what you do, if you are feeling sleepy, getting behind the wheel could be a dangerous decision.
Who’s At Risk? Drowsy Driving Can Affect Anyone
When it comes to getting enough sleep, one of three factors may get in the way:
- Your work life
- Your personal or home life
- Medical conditions
During the summer months, most people who feel sleepy are probably feeling that way due to personal life factors—kids are home and need constant stimulation, family road trips and vacations, and simply having too much fun can all contribute to sleepiness. No one is immune to their home life disrupting their sleep from time to time, but this usually does not cause feelings of chronic fatigue in the short term. Who’s most likely to drive tired in your family? If you have a college-aged son, be sure to speak with them about driving tired—he is statistically more likely to do so than any other gender/age group.
Work life is one of the most worrisome causes of drowsy driving. Shift work is present in many different industries, from the medical field to transportation and manufacturing, and during busy summer months many employees are subjected to shifts with long or strange hours. For those who find themselves working an evening or night shift, by the time they drive home they have often been awake nearly 24 hours—prime conditions for being a victim of drowsy driving.
One final common contributing factor to driving tired is medical issues or medications. That label you see with your allergy or cold medicine that warns against operating heavy machinery? That means your car. Check your medication for warnings of fatigue or dizziness, and take these warnings seriously. If you are currently struggling with a chronic medical condition that affects your sleep, such as sleep apnea, take measures to address the condition to improve your quality of sleep.
If You Plan to Drive, Sleep Is a Necessity
Many people think that getting adequate sleep is a luxury, but when it comes to driving, it is an absolute necessity. If you are too tired—or see that a friend or family member is too tired—to drive safely, find someone else to drive or call a cab. While drowsy driving may not seem as dangerous as driving drunk, it can be. Catch some rays, catch some waves, and catch some Z’s this summer to keep our roads safe!